What defines a successful SIEM (security information and event management) deployment? A SIEM tool should centralize and correlate data across the entire IT network, and run analytics across that dataset to detect security issues and concerns. SIEM tools are offered by a variety of vendors, with a core functionality of log management and centralization, security event detection and reporting, and search capabilities to accelerate security incident investigations. This combination helps companies identify and contain attackers faster, as well as meet mandatory compliance needs.
Setting up SIEM tools is a complex task for even the most advanced security practitioner, but when done correctly, it can eliminate blind spots across your network. The first step consists of understanding your existing network and security stack and figuring out how to collect log information from those points. You’ll also need to consider planning for hardware if a software as a service (SaaS) storage option isn’t offered by the vendor. Finally, an ongoing step is to write rules to detect events of interest and create reports to highlight key metrics on overall network risk. For third-party analysis of SIEM tool features and vendors, check out the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for SIEM.
Managing logs effectively with your SIEM tool is essential for network visibility, compliance, and reliable incident detection and response. You as a security practitioner need the ability to ask questions of your data (usually using structured query language or SQL) to identify Indicators of Compromise (IoCs), find the users and systems affected, and share the final scope with remediation teams. Managing logs usually involves indexing data and correlating it with other data sets. The end goal is to give you an easy way to search for threats from one unified dashboard.
After general setup, configuring your alerts and reports is key to being efficient with your SIEM. As a security practitioner, you’ll need to constantly refine your SIEM to provide you with the important security events happening on your network. A common problem with SIEM tools is that they produce too many un-prioritized alerts, more than the security team can take the time to investigate. That’s why it’s important to continuously tune new and existing rules to effectively find only the relevant threat actions.
Once your SIEM is configured and refined, the real impact comes from the ability to do deep dives into your network for forensic analysis. Minutes after receiving an alert, you should be able to start parsing your centralized logs to identify traces of malicious behavior. Tools and programs are becoming increasingly effective, so less time is wasted during the initial, crucial moments of a potential hack. Security teams can view the network as a whole, so criminals can't hide in commonly exploited areas of your evolving environment.
Time and accuracy matter here. With a SIEM tool, your company may see billions of events each day, and that's a lot of information to sift through. You need a SIEM solution that can verify what needs follow-up and, just as important, what's harmless behavior. The more adaptive your solutions can be, the better the chances you won't have a public relations nightmare or financial crisis on your hands.
Here's a short checklist of what to look for in a SIEM solution:
It's a lot to remember, and a lot to take in. But feeling overwhelmed can't stop you from taking action. Attacks come in all shapes and sizes, and understanding their full scope is not just something that's “nice to have.” When you use incident and detection response effectively, you start your company on a path to streamlining more tasks through a better understanding of what policies are working and which ones might need some work, both now and in the future.